We know that parents have to support their children. But what about disabled adults? Can a parent be required to support a disabled adult child? The answer depends on where you live. Each state has its unique laws that apply to its residents, especially involving children and families. However, by reviewing court opinions and statutes through the United States, some trends become apparent. This article explores parental responsibility for disabled adults.

State Statutes

A few states have statutes that specifically require parents to support their adult children with physical challenges. While the language of law varies, they typically seek to protect the state from the responsibility of paying public benefits to a disabled adult. For instance, Maryland requires parents who can earn sufficient means to provide shelter, food, and clothing to their disabled adult children who have no means of substance and can’t support themselves due to mental or physical infirmity.

Meanwhile, in California, parents are required to care for a child to the extent of their ability. Some states have also enacted statutes that require certain family members to provide financial support to close relatives who are physically challenged and unable to support themselves. These statutes are commonly referred to as “filial support” statutes.

Court Rulings

Many state courts usually require parents that are financially stable to support their disabled adult children who are not capable of supporting themselves. The court rulings may be based on a state statute that expressly requires parents to support their disabled adult children. When making its decision, the court will consider factors such as the parent’s means of income and the degree of disability of the adult child. Courts in a few states will not impose the responsibility of parents to support their adult children with disabilities.

Can the Public Benefits the Disabled Adult Child Is Receiving Impact the Parent’s Support Obligation?

The public benefits received by a disabled adult child may relieve a parent’s support obligation to a certain degree. It depends on the public benefits the child is receiving and the court making the decision. Social Security, SSI, and SSDI benefits are treated separately when taken into accounting in order to determine a parent’s support obligation. While SSI benefits usually don’t affect the parent’s financial obligations, SSDI and Social Security benefits may have an impact.

Do a Child’s Special Needs Trust Impacts a Parent’s Support Obligation?

When a child is the beneficiary of special need trust assets, the assets may reduce the child’s parent’s financial obligations. However, this varies depending on the form of trust assets and how they are allocated to the beneficiary. If you have a concern or question about your responsibility to your disabled adult child, you should talk to a special needs planner.

Serenitas Special Needs Planning Can Help

We are familiar with the public benefits laws and special needs estate planning and can create a plan that ensures the quality of life of your child with special needs. Contact Serenitas Special Needs Planning today for a free consultation.